Romain Grosjean admits there was a moment in his career where he almost gave up on his motorsport ambitions, and followed instead his passion for cooking until it all once again fell back into place.
In the middle of a competitive season in GP2 in 2009, the Frenchman was called upon by Renault to replace Nelson Piquet Jr at the European Grand Prix in Valencia after the Brazilian's involvement in the team's infamous Singapore "crashgate" affair.
Racing alongside Fernando Alonso, Grosjean acquitted himself well, positioning himself favourably for a full-time seat with the team - then to become Lotus - for 2010. It wouldn't come to pass however.
"It was tough, it was very late as well," Grosjean revealed in F1's latest "Beyond the Grid" podcast.
"Eric Boullier was then in charge of Lotus and I was in contact with Eric and they were telling me if we don’t find anyone you are the obvious choice because you have experience in the team and so on.
"Then on the 31st of January 2010 I got a call from Eric saying they had said [Vitaly] Petrov so I was out.
"I thought ‘that’s it, I’m not racing anymore’ so I am going to become a cook - because that’s part of my passion. I went to a cooking school and I was told I was too old. They said no."
Grosjean bid his time racing sportscars until DAMS Jean-Paul Driot put him back in the saddle in 2011, taking full advantage of the opportunity to clinch the GP2 title before getting a second shot at F1 the following year.
In hindsight, Grosjean believes he simply wasn't ready for F1 when he made his debut on the fly.
"F1 is not only about driving. Driving the car is one thing but there’s being on the outside, being aware of what is going on and the games and the media," he explained.
"So I came to F1 and people thought I was arrogant, but I was just shy. I was looking not to disturb anything. No one ever told me what to do or not to do and that’s why I wasn’t ready.
"It was a dream start. After the summer break I got the phone call to say I’m in the car for seven grands prix, to get used to F1 before the next season starts and use it as learning. Turns out it wasn’t the case.
"I think it was just the case of wrong place, wrong time,” he added. “I was next to Fernando, which was amazing, I learned a lot from him. Obviously he was very fast," he added.
"But with all the crashgate story I was part of the furniture that needed a change. I was part of the Flavio Briatore management and even though I owe a lot to Flavio for putting me in, I think it also cost me my first career in F1."